Milwaukee Bucks: Predicting 2021-22 starting five, sixth man, and closers

MIAMI, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 29: (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 29: (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Donte DiVincenzo, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – MARCH 20 (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

We’re roughly a month away from the start of NBA training camps in September, and it couldn’t come soon enough. Even for fans of the reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks, as much as they want to bask in the championship glow a little longer, they also miss their team and want to see them repeat and defend as champions.

Winning a championship is never easy, and defending one can’t be any easier, so it’ll once again be a grind for the Bucks. However, they did add some depth pieces around the existing core in the offseason while retaining a key bench piece as well, so they’ll have the reinforcements to help defend their title.

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Along with those new pieces also brings questions for how the Bucks will look to integrate them into the lineup and how that may affect some of their rotations this season.

We’ve already taken a look at some of the notable lineup combinations that head coach Mike Budenholzer could look to integrate this season with a handful of new faces in the mix, but what about the bigger picture?

There are some questions surrounding one of the starting lineup spots due to a devastating injury to Donte DiVincenzo, the added depth means there will be competition for who the first player off the bench is for the Bucks, and there are some interesting options for how they can close games with some added lineup versatility. So let’s take a deeper dive into how the Bucks could answer these three crucial questions as we (slowly) approach the beginning of the 2021-22 NBA season.

Predicting the starting lineup for the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021-22

If there wasn’t an injury to one of the starters from last season, this really wouldn’t be much of a question at all. According to, the starting lineup of Jrue Holiday, Donte DiVincenzo, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Brook Lopez played 508 minutes together last season, by far the most of any five-man lineup combo for Milwaukee last season (they were also a +8.7, the fourth-highest of any lineup that played 350 or more minutes).

Clearly, that is a combination that works for Budenholzer, but with DiVincenzo likely not ready for opening night (or at least very limited), there could be an opening in that starting shooting guard spot. That is something we’ve looked at recently with regards to who could be a starting option in that role, but there are two primary options in my mind that could slide into the starting lineup on opening night: Grayson Allen and Pat Connaughton.

The athletic profiles between DiVincenzo, Allen, and Connaughton are striking, which lends itself to the reason why the latter two are the best options to fill in for DiVincenzo while he’s injured. Although I believe that DiVincenzo should earn that spot back when he’s fully healthy, putting in a player like Allen or Connaughton fill that void very well.

The expectation from Bucks fans is that Allen was signed to fill that role — and possibly even take it from DiVincenzo long-term — but I’m skeptical that he is the long-term solution there. As much as I really like Allen’s fit with this team, I don’t think he brings enough as a defender to supplant the incumbent DiVincenzo as the starting two-guard. His shooting is more valuable in a bench role anyway.

It is possible the Bucks could want to add some size, similar to what they did in the playoffs with P.J. Tucker as a starter. However, Milwaukee lacks the requisite size on the bench, so bringing a player like Semi Ojeleye or Bobby Portis into the starting lineup would leave them depleted if one of the bigs were to get into foul trouble.

Projected Opening Night Starting Lineup: Jrue Holiday, Grayson Allen, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez